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Our English Interests | Sunday early afternoon

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"Tell the dear mademoiselle she may visit me whenever the fancy strikes her. Now if it pleases her."


Apartment of Duc de Chevreuse

The door opens into a narrow corridor that opens into the apartment’s drawing room. The room is furnished simply but elegantly in shades of pale green. A bank of windows along the south wall offers a view of the Long Walk and Castle Hill, letting in prodigious amounts of sunlight on a clear day. A carved rosewood writing table is placed against the windows while a handful of straight-backed chairs, cushioned in matching shades of green, are dotted throughout the room. Along the west wall is a deep-set stone fireplace that crackles merrily at all times to ward off the cold: it is draped with a swath of royal blue velvet, a wreath of seasonal flowers gracing the center of the swathe. An iron chandelier hangs from the ceiling, the light glinting off of the polished wood floors. Silver bows and bells adorn the tiebacks of the drapes..

To the rear of the drawing room is two doors doors; these open into the apartment's bedchambers. The smaller of the two has been finished in dark blue, the stone walls covered with a large tapestry depicting the culmination of a boar hunt. Against the north wall is a carved cherry bed hung in heavy blue damask to match the counterpane and the cushion on the single chair beside the small fireplace. Silver bells adorn the tiebacks of the bed curtains, affixed there with silver satin bows. An iron chandelier provides light in the windowless room, light glinting off the polished wooden floors. On the west wall is a small door leading into a very small closet.

The larger of the two bedrooms is pristine white with three small beds placed directly in the center of the chamber. The beds are distinguishable only by the differences in embroidery on the curtains and counterpanes; one red, one blue, and one green. Blossoms made of deep blue velvet adorn the tiebacks of the bed curtains, affixed there with white satin bows. Against the east wall is a small fireplace while next to the door is a small vanity table and stool. Opposite the fireplace is a door that leads into a small closet; this door is hidden behind an elegant tapestry of a beautiful young maiden with a unicorn at her feet. The windowless room is lit by an iron chandelier, light glinting off the polished wooden floors.


Maisie was out of breath from having run up the stairs to deliver her mistress the message, and was rewarded by a great smile, “Merveilleuse!” Nicci gushed reaching to squeeze her maids hand.  “You are a treasure, quick fetch my lilac fan.”

It was but a few minutes later that a pinky-scratching noise at Chevreuse’s door alerted of Nicci’s arrival at it; she newly freshed with a dusting of power and blush of cherry to lips, with fan hanging from satin ribbon from her wrist.  

Nicolette had kept a correspondence with At Aignan’s sister, and it was he whom had become a patron for her mother.  While Chevreuse; well the men were both bright minds, one complimenting the other – but she’d found herself fondest of Charles-Louis with the insightful brown eyes. 

A pleasant tingle of excitement brightned her eyes as she waited, fingers smoothing her skirts. 

Nicci did not make herself a regular visitor, upon a wish not to attract peoples attention overly. (It would not do for the English to notice gatherings of French persons, lest their paranoia decided to make something of it.)  But sometimes, such as now, she thought benefits to outweigh any risk of. 

Which was a happy thought. 

Admitted, Nicolette glided in to the room with elegance in hope to please his eyes, and dropped into a deep curtsy with the warm utterance, “Your Grace, I am beside of myself with joy to see you once more...”  And arising, she looked to meet his eyes. 

He was a man of many years yes, but had such style and mental vigour as to be compelling. Upon an impulse she drew nearer still, with wish to air embrace with air kisses, “… it is like a return to home.”

She indulged herself with this feeling, even though she had no intent to return to France - flashing a smile, she imagined he knew as much also.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Duc de Chevreuse was a handsome fellow in his early thirties, with a keen eye for French fashion and an inheritance in intrigues which made him perfect for the task to which he was assigned by Le Roi. Specifically, helping to ferret out this Dutch conspiracy and help return goodwill fully to the French...whilst also ascertaining if any of it could be connected to that folly attached to Orleans and Lorraine. Ruvigny's bastard - who had met his fate as a traitor in England - had been a Protestant, and the Dutch did ever so love funding French Protestants. Apparently just as much as they wished to make certain an English Catholic never took the throne.


"Ahh Mademoiselle, how beautiful you are," he compliment before kissing her hand. She drew near and he did not discourage it, leaning down accommodatingly for her affections. 


"I do try to bring Le Esprit with me," the Duc added, chuckling warmly. "I am glad it places you in such familiar comforts."


(OOC - Chevreuse is Charles Honoré d'Albert de Luynes, Louis-Charles is his father, the Duc de Luynes)

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"Between us we might pose for porcelain figurines,"  Nicolette tipped her head with the tease following their pretty praises. 

"... while the house in which I am kept is known for it's own stylings of."  Buckingham was blatant in his fondness for French stylings including his own version of espirit.  And since last she'd spoken to the Duc in person she'd learnt of his connection to her patron (one of, that is) so this acknowledgement was  in reference to that. 

Stepping back again, after the exchanges of greetings, Nicolette settled the look of him more fully to mind. He was younger than she remembered, though his elegance endured.

"Home is ever a place close to the heart." she settled, "but I was so pleased to hear you attended Windsor too, for your physicality has Mother France feel even nearer -  I carry your nearness close, even if visits in persons are much rarer."  In a playfully manner she then added, ‘I always imagine the English would leap to hysterics should they see more than one French person in a room together. Better our conversation is done out of their sight…”

She had wondered who saw her enter though his door, possibly one of Cumberlands guards, though she'd not lingered to attact attention. 

“Your Grace… there are a couple of things I seek your council upon?”

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Yes, Buckingham is quite the admirer of French styles and opulent art, of the sort which fills Versailles. It is a shame so much of his family's collection was lost during the rule of that commoner, His Majesty's also."


A hearty laugh met her reply about a French congregation. "It is true, though less true than it might have been last year. Now that there is a Protestant heir, there is less worry over the French influence."


A delicately groomed brow quirked just a bit as she said she sought his council. He nodded.


"Then shall we sit and have a glass of something? You can tell me what is on your mind. Your dear mother perhaps?"

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  • 4 weeks later...

Nicci was becoming used to the way men of her acquaintance shared tidbits; such as the loss of someone known to them treasures, she appreciated that it was their was to imparting lesser known knowledge, thus to be received as a gift.  With a thoughtful nod and smile she mused "You might then enjoy the story of how I accidentally found one such boyhood treasure and gifted it back - with no idea at the time that it was originally the Dukes.  A miniature soldiers set that he and His Majesty used to play with." 

"How remarkable coincidence moves amongst us, yes, there really ought to be remarkable quote to it's blessings brought. The Greeks might have coined something perhaps?"

With a gracious nod she accepted his offer of a chair and a drink, and seated herself prettily in the precarious perch that the ladies in French Salons had perfected, duely spending a moment arranging her skirts.  “Thank you Your Grace, though it is not my Mama whom I concern over; in fact when my thoughts turn to her it is with a happy confidence that she cannot be happier nor better placed." 

“But actually, it is the appearance of an unlikely contingent here this season. The Russians, that have me wondering what manner of politics they desire.  The Ambassador in fact attended a festive bonfire I arranged, while I cannot say he seemed very welcomed by others, it was plain that he intended to impress with quirky and novel items. And you know how the English like anything exotic.  I just wondered, what you might know about him, and… well, what are your thoughts?”  


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  • 2 weeks later...

Chevreuse, like any courtier, was always interested in a good story - or gossip - for what else did they have to spent their time doing? Stories were their own kind of trade amongst courtiers, who needed entertainment. 


"I should be most interested to hear such a tale! Though I am far younger than the duke, there are a few tales I know from my relations. I would be happy to share them in return," he said, with a conspiratorial grin. 


He would, of course, not share the great secret known between them, but there were many tales that were far more harmless so long removed. Or, at least, they were ones that were commonly known to those old enough to remember them. 


Of the Duke's father too.


"The Russian? Well, I should imagine he is here for the same reason most diplomats from far reaches come to any court: trade opportunities. I cannot claim to have more knowledge than that for Le Roi is not much concerned over Russians treating with the English, and you know that my focus here is on the continued relationship between my king and his royal cousin here. Aiding against this Dutch danger has many benefits especially after the contemptuous and unsanctioned actions of Ruvigny's bastard." While Le Roi surely was above apologies or making something up to another, he saw values in diplomatic actions. "There has not been much time for Russians, alas."

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It was an innocent enough tale that she felt at liberty to be free with it.  Laughing lightly at his cheery reply Nicci leaned forward to add, "It was just as well, that I grew bored of a battalion of English soldiers under my bed - I find their leaders far more distracting." 

Taking a sip of her drink, Nicci was so pleased she'd thought to visit.  Chevreuse was fine company, in fact if she'd had French plans she might have fancy thoughts - but her sights were set in England. Which meant she could simply enjoy the mans company for what it was. 

"La but tell me a teaser to the sort of tale you might offer in exchange!  I am starting to think we need to upgrade our beverage for the telling;  I find confidences best shared with brandy, don’t you think?"

Of the Russian, he did not seem bothered.  "Certainly ambassadors from here and there don’t raise an eye, but this one, he seems a bit different.  A little bit too, unique, I would say.  And yes, as you mention the Dutch concerns, then Russia is rather too northern for my liking - nothing good ever came from the Baltic."




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"A tease you say?" A brow raised humorously. "Let it not be said that Chevreuse fails to deliver." 


He made of show of giving a grand hmmm, putting a finger to his lips in thought. In truth, though, there were many tales he could tease or tell. 


"Surely you have heard of the story of Buckingham being enamored of His Majesty's sister, Henriette?" He led into the tease. Then took a long pause. "But did you hear that he nearly made the Comte de Guiche go broke?"


His delicate brow raised again as he chuckled. Buckingham had a wealth of income few others could ever compete with and had been profligate after the return from exile.


"And now it is your turn," he said, motioning for his servant to bring the brandy and fill glasses.


"I daresay their headwear is considerably...unique."

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Nicci chuckled at the undisguised play of thoughts that he allowed her to be privy to.  She’d not meant tease in a sexual way, but appreciated his flex never the less. 

“La, you quicken my breath!” well ok, so they would harmlessly flirt. It was fun. And it was an entirely French thing to do (games of flirtations was de  rigueur at Versailles.)

“But you have been quite horrible to make me choose.  Though I dare say that every gentleman of that age fancied himself in love with Henriette, most especially persons with an ego that shines as brightly as Duke Buckinghams.  But far less guessable is the near ruination of de Guiche – so that is the tale I want to be ravaged with. Mmm, unless that was decades ago?  You know me to be a girl of modern ambitions my lord.”

With a nod of thanks to servant, Nicci took a sip of her Brandy. “Well I might counter with the tale of how I became covered in a Dutchman’s blood, then hidden away by Irish aristocracy… although why do I think you might already know that story my lord Duc?”

“Perhaps instead you would enjoy the tale of my cousins saving of a pair of lordlings, or when I was too slow to stop the explosions at the English Navy Show.”

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"Ahh, but you see, I am not making you choose, for the stories are one in the same," Chevreuse revealed. "And great stories of significance are timeless."


Of course, the story would have to take place when the princess in question was still alive, so it was not a recent one. In honesty, Chevreuse had not witnessed the entire thing himself. He had been too young at the time.


"Buckingham was representing His Majesty for the marrying of his sister to Monsieur. As you know, and most knew then, Monsieur has very little interest in ladies or wives. Thus, much of court was intent on charming the new Madame-to-be, to be her favourite gentleman. However, the duke was loathe to be outdone, for he had his own attachments to Henriette. There were ridiculous competitions of all sorts. With games, with swords, and with cards. Buckingham lost a considerable amount at the card table and Guiche right along with him, trying to outdo him. Whispers soon began to abound to competing with the great Duke of Buckingham was going to ruin de Guiche. The bravado between the two extended to the most opulent clothing, which de Guiche could not sustain, for Buckingham was found with a glittering diamond band around his hat at one event. It was so extravagant, ladies whispered about whether or not they were real or glass. With a laugh, Buckingham pulled it off his hat and put it on the table and said, "Ladies, I assure you they are very real, and they are yours." It rose to such a level that Monsieur, even, was beginning to grow jealous of these two handsome men vying for attention when the court was supposed to be focused upon his wedding. In the end, the Queen Mother, in some lasting attachment to the duke's father, contrived a way to get him back to England without anyone losing face, in order to placate her son and save de Guiche."


When Nicci told her own tale, Chevreuse let his eyebrows arch with intelligent appraisal. "You know, I do believe I may have heard about that one." He grinned unrepentantly. "Let us hear the one about the explosions."

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Nicci had come to believe that the most colourful tales came out of the Commonwealth Experiment years, where strained circumstance had placed many nobles in out of the usual circumstances.  So it was that she was already imaging that the tale between Buckingham and Henriette was a decades old one.

“You are good at enticing bulletins, have you ever considered writing broadsheets my lord Duc?” Nicolette teased to discover that both stories were of the same, then settled to enjoy the telling of the tale.

"Oh what a time to have lived!” she crooned, “Buckingham in youthful precocious must have been something else.  Then the fetes and shows, and there is no where that might put them on better than our Motherland France.  It must have been spectacular.” 

It made her feel a little proud of her heritage even!

“La, but it was de Guiche’s Mama who saved the rivalry from a calamitous end. A clever women I dare say, even without the self interest of saving her sons good name – Monseigneur’s displeasure might have been earned if it had gone too far.  As it was… do you think it amused Le Roi?  It was like a caged cock fight, I dare say there were wagers placed.”

Sighing happily with satisfaction of hearing a tale well told, she leant back in her chair with a gin upon her face.  Who had known that Chevreuse was such a fun resources. If her dance card of sweethearts was not already full, she’d put him on the list too. Well, perhaps there was even a little room still to day dream of him later on.

“The diamonds must have been worth thousands.” And in her imagination she saw some pretty wearing those and naught else in a post cards game celebration with the English Duke. Lady, or Ladies, he was known to enjoy excess.

Yes he knew about the skirmish near the fountains, that was new news, so of course he kept informed.

But this older news, that was of no great import, was a letter known thing. 

“Well you must realise that I keep a collection of Courts youngsters as friends, just boys really, eyes bright and spirits frolicsome, they enjoy a pretty lady friend and I enjoy their light of heart.   I was entertaining with them at Brighton, while many others were having grown ups talk – and the boys were bragging and bravado.  The also had a dreadful experiment.  You see in England they allow boys to read nearly anything, especially when the books are from the science section. And one of the boys, possibly all of them, had discovered a recipe to make fireworks. And so they did, though no-one knew it.  Until the youngest of the group snatched the satchel from the eldest and threw it into the bonfire!”

“I admit, I had been thinking to watch the Naval exercises before that, so I might advise my sponsors.” Namely himself and St.A “of the distance fired by the fabled Rupertinoe. But I saw none of that due to the fracas, and I doubt anyone else at the event did either – there were screams and cries as courtiers and their companions alike fled the scene.” She was laughing to remember.

Sobering up then, she asked, “Have you met the Worchester Family? The eldest son later took full responsivity, and a thrashing so bad he could not sit for two days after. I thought that very noble of him to take the brunt, and of course some whom he protected was the English Kings offspring.”

At mention of that she discreetly touched her belly, "And no, not yet." since he knew much, she thought to reveal this also.  

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"Easily thousands," Chevreuse agreed. There was no excess like the excess of the French court. Though he did not know Nicci's thoughts, he was of the belief that Buckingham must have earned himself a full bed with queue.


"Ah to be a youth with a purse full of money and bright thoughts of freedom and opportunity," Chevreuse said, with a sly grin. He had probably been a troublesome youth in that same sort of way for he had that demeanor as a man.


"Threw an entire pile of fireworks into the bonfire!" Chevreuse chuckled with wide eyes. "Either incredibly bold or incredibly stupid. Which do you think?"


The tale of one of the bunch taking the punishment for all was a noble detail. CHevreuse could appreciate that and the bravery. "I would imagine his papa was quite unhappy with him. I know of him, yes, but not intimately. Perhaps we might contrive a meeting, so I could make better acquaintance."


She touched her belly and said not yet. He smiled and shrugged. "Plenty of time if that is what you desire."

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Nicolette laughed with his sly tease that was more like a confession, "I should be begging stories of your daring! Or do I need to go to Duc Buckingham for that." she grinned at the imaging that they be keeper of each others secrets.  Though Chevreuse was a younger set than George Villiers.  The French Duc was not so many years past the 'youth with a pocket full of money' stage himself, "But really, I rather doubt you are even past bright and vivacious antics yourself."   

"It was stupid." She replied simply. "The youngest sought to steal the limelight, and was not so patient as the others to wait for the right moment to set them off.  Why, left to his older friends they might have waited till everyone had gone home and they had the look out to themselves."

"That seems a fine idea, I can easily enough introduce you to his Lady Wife, if that would please you for a start? We are fine friends, I’ve spend a number of recesses with her.  While Lord Worchester keeps himself rather busier you understand."  

She gave a silent nod at his comment re a bastard one day. She almost told him that she hardly really knew, that the thought of childbirth rightly terrified her, but that she wanted to secure her future in England one day.   But woudl he want to know, did he need to know, or would she just bore him with womens prattle. 

"My Lord Duc, may I ask you if you have heard anything from my mothers hosts? I trust she is still a welcome guest. For her part in her letters, I always read she is content."  



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"I cannot betray all my secrets at once!" he protested with a grin. "But sometimes the stories of one's exploits are best told by another." He chuckled about that as not many would know stories about him at the English court. It was good Saint-Aignan was not with him!


As to the Worcester's, Chevreuse nodded, "I never deny the company of a fine lady, and perhaps when Lord Worcester hears of it, he shall wish to join. Even the busiest of men does not wish to miss a chance for foreign diplomacy."


It was her question about her mother which caught him a bit off guard. He blinked and raised a delicate brow.


"Of course she is a most-welcomed guest at one of Saint-Aignan's houses, and you are to ask of her whenever you wish, surely." Did she expect he would not answer? Her question seemed worried. "I thought your patron the Duke of Buckingham would have made you aware of his arrangements? Not that the French are in the business of using mothers as political pawns, my dear, but he could have her safely here at the drop of a hat - with my help. He made certain of that before he placed you close to His Majesty.* Buckingham is as protective of his king as I am of Le Roi. While the agendas of both kings are in alignment, there is no need to concern yourself, and there are plans for your dear mama's protection regardless."


Chevreuse served Le Roi, and he did so faithfully, but he and Buckingham shared a very deep secret that no other knew and would never know. 


(OOC - I seem to remember Buckingham did tell her this in an early thread ;) )

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"Then I shall visit you again, to detail Lord Buckingham’s Chevreuse accountings. For surely you shall be dying to know how he paints you!” Nicci promised happily. 

“You shall be a worm on the hook.” She agreed, nodding that the gentleman would make his way to Chevreuse if he took up conversation with his wife.  Not only political ambition would dictate as much!

“Oh I did not mean to imply anything like that.” Nicci quickly assured, “aside from the first moments surprise at the kindness shown my family, I have been nothing but grateful of the generosity. While it has me think of France yes, it’s never been with anxiousness.

“No, but rather, I know my Mother is quite delighted with a freedom from cares. Her life, nor my own for that matter, have been like that forever.  I am very thankful.

“I only hope that she does not prove to be a burden, or, well worst, to be expectant. Though I am my mothers daughter, thus grace in acceptance of assistance learnt from her.  Well… just call me a worrier.  I would never want to be a cause of trouble.”  

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  • 2 weeks later...

In truth one should have a bit of anxiousness whenever and wherever Le Roi was concerned. He was a tactician who used his pieces on the board, sometimes, with impunity. Such was the way with Kings. It was why Buckingham would not have let her get close to his king without ensuring that the French king could not use Nicci's mother as a means to control her if it came to that. 


"Then she should enjoy the freedom from cares without worry and you as well," Chevreuse assured her. "I cannot claim to understand the plight of less forgiving years or circumstance, but I am happy to be part of the deliverance from such."


Chevreuse chuckled and then said, "She is far from a burden, my dear. Great houses must have a guests and the more the number of them, the more magnanimous the host. Saint-Aignan's family has many houses."

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  • 3 weeks later...

"I see." Nicolette nodded as she gained understanding.  "These are not viewpoints that my past has revealed to me, though it makes fine sense now I learn of them.  Mother presents an opportunity for his generosity to be evident, and if I might suggest, to a quarter that reflects well upon him."

Nicci realised that Buckingham himself was an example of this, but for some reason she'd never thought of Him being put out by presence.  It was her attraction to the Duke that absorbed herself in that regard, she'd basically asked to stay with him, and once there had no intention of leaving.  He was a flame and she a moth!

“I am feeling greatly relieved.” she took a long sip of her drink to punctuate that point. “Thank you so much for seeing me today. You might see I’ve been a little, ah paranoid I suppose.  And so now I need not worry about the Russian Ambassador, however strange he is. Nor my Mama, who is the happiest I have heard her for years. While I shall arrange a way to introduce you to Worchester via his dear lady wife.”

With her little summary of happy notes listed, she rose to her feet and met the Compte’ eyes with a grin, “It might only be better with a kiss.”  Which might have been a tease, for of course the usual farewell was more boring. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"You are most welcome to come see me, Mademoiselle," Chevreuse said, with a nod of affirmation. "You are always fine company and conversation. It is no surprise why Le Duc enjoys your company so very much," the man added of Buckingham.


He did not concern over her worries or paranoias as she put it. There was little strange about worries in a lady. They were prone to such things. That was part of the feminine sensibilities and softness. He was happy to assuage her fears.


"I look forward to meeting Lord Worcester and Lady Worcester, of course." Chevreuse rose when she did, and he readied for her farewells.


Instead, though, she beseeched him of a kiss. He rather knew it was not a lewd invitation, but it made him grin anyway.


Obligingly, he leaned down to her and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, a kiss that might be used by the French between friends, before adding another to her cheek. 

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